If your initial marriage is outside (and invalid) and you renew vows in a Catholic ceremony


#1

My husband was previously married-and then later divorced. This was his first marriage and his (now) ex-wife’s second marriage. They were both Catholic and were married in an outdoor wedding by a non-denominational minister. His ex-wife had her first marriage nullified by the Catholic Church. They later renewed their vows with a Catholic priest in a Catholic church.

After months of discussion and praying with my husband over religion, children (and ethics and parenting preferences) I have a strong desire to convert to Catholicism and be re-married in a Catholic Church. At this time I also discovered that our (now) marriage is invalid in the eyes of the church.

My questions are this:

  1. Although my husband’s first marriage had an initially invalid ceremony (it was not performed by a catholic priest and it was outdoors), does the renewal of vows in a Catholic church render the marriage valid?

  2. If the marriage is valid, does that then mean that if I were to convert and complete RCIA that I would be also unable to partake in sacraments of confession and Eucharist until either the marriage is nullified OR my husband and I choose to remain chaste?

  3. If the marriage is invalid, is he still required to seek nullification?


#2

[quote="devotedtogod, post:1, topic:221132"]
1) Although my husband's first marriage had an initially invalid ceremony (it was not performed by a catholic priest and it was outdoors), does the renewal of vows in a Catholic church render the marriage valid?

[/quote]

Most likely what your husband did was a convalidation of the civil marriage. Yes, this makes the marriage valid. Your husband can contact his parish (where he did the convalidation) and make sure that is what the priest did. It will be in his sacramental records.

[quote="devotedtogod, post:1, topic:221132"]
2) If the marriage is valid, does that then mean that if I were to convert and complete RCIA that I would be also unable to partake in sacraments of confession and Eucharist until either the marriage is nullified OR my husband and I choose to remain chaste?

[/quote]

You are correct that you are currently in an invalid marriage and that this presents an impediment to your reception of sacraments in the Catholic Church. This is something best discussed one-on-one with the priest. He can help you through things step by step. What appears at first to be an insurmountable obstacle, when taken one step at a time, can become a manageable process. Please talk to the priest.

[quote="devotedtogod, post:1, topic:221132"]
3) If the marriage is invalid, is he still required to seek nullification?

[/quote]

If an investigation reveals no canonical marriage, then he would have a "Lack of Form" civil marriage and a divorce from that marriage. He is free to convalidate your marriage after some paperwork is filed.

If an investigation reveals that this prior marriage was canonical (i.e. what you call a renewal of vows *was in fact a *convalidation) then he will need to pursue a formal case for decree of nullity.

Again, details become important when discussing what needs to be done so it's best to lay out all the facts with the priest.


#3

Thanks for the additional clarification in terms of form, process and how we can check to see if it was a renewal or convalidation. My husband is wary of approaching a new priest in a congregation we just started going to, and I’m hoping additional basic information about the process will help provide some level of comfort.

Again, thank you kindly.


#4

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